FORMER Stourbridge MP Margot James has admitted she "probably didn't do enough" to help those affected by the Post Office scandal who have now had their convictions quashed.

Ms James, who was postal services minister from July 2016 to January 2018, said she wished she'd "done more" after a landmark ruling in which the Court of Appeal overturned the criminal convictions of 39 ex-Post Office workers after a defective software system was discovered to have shown shortfalls in their accounts which did not exist.

The case was the result of a long campaign after the Post Office prosecuted 736 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses between 2000 and 2014 - based on information from a computer system called Horizon.

Some went to prison after being convicted of false accounting and theft, while others were left financially and socially ruined.

But a group of former sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses have now finally seen their names cleared.

Reacting to the news - Ms James, who was given responsibility for the Post Office as part of her role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: "This has been a really terrible miscarriage of justice."

Speaking to Channel 4 News about whether she'd done enough to listen to the plight of those who have had their convictions quashed, she said: "I wish I’d done more…so I suppose I would have to say I probably didn’t do enough.

"I was only in that role for 18 months and unfortunately I had responsibility for both the Post Office and Royal Mail but that was in a myriad of many other responsibilities and because Post Office was an arms length organisation with an autonomous board and it functions independent of government there was less we could really do than would have been the case had it been wholly publicly owned and controlled by my department.

"I do really regret not spending more time on it. It took me quite some time to understand what was really going on."

She said the Post Office board "did not really want to discuss the issue" and "gave the impression it was historic and under legal enforcement" and she added: "But finally I did meet the representatives of the sub postmasters and mistresses and then started to get greater clarity around what’s going on."

Former Culture Minister Ms James, who is now executive chair at WMG at the University of Warwick after standing down as MP for Stourbridge at the 2019 General Election, said she now thinks there should be an independent review of the case.

She has also called for a "proper compensation programme for the victims" but said: "Nothing can compensate them for all the stress and worry they have had over the years, some people have even died whilst waiting for justice. There’s a limit to what financial compensation can achieve but they should at least get that and swiftly."

This afternoon, however, it was confirmed the government will not extend the remit of its inquiry into the scandal.

Business Minister Paul Scully said it was important the inquiry reaches a swift conclusion.

Those affected have long called for a judge-led, full, public inquiry, rather than the government's own inquiry which cannot compel witnesses to attend or hand over evidence.

Ms James told the News: "They set up an inquiry last November chaired by a retired judge but it doesn't the power to subpoena all the evidence.

"There should be an independent inquiry - maybe with terms of reference set so it doesn't go on for years and years - but more is inquiry with greater powers to subpoena."

She added: "If I'd known from the outset what I know now I would have pushed the government to expose the issue earlier and give more support to the sub postmasters."